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Cavaliers win thriller over Milbank

WATERTOWN -- Errors proved fatal for Milbank Area in the quarterfinals of the state Class A volleyball tournament Thursday in the Watertown Civic Arena.

Bon Homme's Jeni Schmidt, right, hits the ball against Milbank Area's La Chasity Finley during a Class A state quarterfinal volleyball match Thursday in Watertown. (Roger Merriam/Watertown Public Opinion)
Bon Homme's Jeni Schmidt, right, hits the ball against Milbank Area's La Chasity Finley during a Class A state quarterfinal volleyball match Thursday in Watertown. (Roger Merriam/Watertown Public Opinion)

WATERTOWN - Errors proved fatal for Milbank Area in the quarterfinals of the state Class A volleyball tournament Thursday in the Watertown Civic Arena.

Trailing 12-14 in the fifth and final set, the sixth-seeded Bulldogs (19-7) committed a service error - the last of eight total on the evening - to deliver the set and the match to third-seeded Bon Homme (30-4).

Set scores were 21-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-19 and 15-12.

The win sends Bon Homme to the championship semifinals where it will face seventh-seeded Madison today at 7:45 p.m. Milbank Area drops into the consolation bracket and will meet second-seeded Sioux Falls Christian at 1:45 p.m.

Compounding the Bulldogs errors were a pair of stellar, all-around performances from Bon Homme's Sierra Mesman and Jeni Schmidt, both Dakota Wesleyan commits.

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Mesman and Schmidt combined for 53 of their team's 59 kills (28 for Schmidt and 25 for Mesman) and were equally impressive on defense, racking up 44 total digs (Mesman 33, Schmidt 21) to go along with three blocks from Mesman.

"Tonight, both of them (Mesman and Schmidt) stepped up in a big way," said Bon Homme head coach Lindsey Fathke. "Not just in the sense of hitting, but also in the back row. They've been our go-to's all season and they were awesome."

Caryssa Mielitz piloted Milbank Area with 26 kills and two aces.

Mielietz notched eight kills early in the fourth set, building a 14-12 advantage in the potentially deciding frame. However, the Cavaliers erupted on a 9-1 scoring run spurred on by five combined points from Mesman and Schmidt and a pair of costly net violations from the Bulldogs.

The fifth set was a seesaw affair with both teams trading blows before Schmidt took over. Trailing 10-9, the Cavaliers rattled off six of the last eight points with Schmidt pounding five kills.

"It was definitely a battle back-and-forth the entire time," added Fathke. "They had some outstanding hitters, dug the ball well and made a lot of nice plays."

Other leaders for Bon Homme included Breanna Dickendorf with three kills and two aces and Deann Jelsma with 51 assists.

"We couldn't keep the momentum going," said Milbank Area head coach Nancy Hoeke. "There would be an error or something silly and much of it was forced by a great team across the net that kept fighting back. There were moments when I thought we had it and we would be able to persevere, but then they would be able to come up with something tough on defense that would throw us off balance."

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